On week four of Top Chef: Texas the competition gets red hot as the cheftestants whip up chili pepper-themed dishes! In episode 4, we meet guest judges Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, the chef/owners of Border Grill Restaurants and former Top Chef Masters. Mary Sue and Susan join our fabulous Top Chef judges, Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons.
There are 15 cheftestants left. The other cheftestants asked Sarah Grueneberg and Lindsay Autry why Keith Rhodeswas eliminated. They speculate whether Keith would have been eliminated, if they hadn’t turned against each other. Sarah and Lindsay deny the possibility. After all, Sarah and Lindsay didn’t turn against each other – they were too busy teaming up against Keith! Sarah went so far as to claim that Keith did not go home because of the shrimp, but because of his use of flour tortilla instead of corn tortilla for his enchilada. Last episode she had gotten into an argument with Keith over the enchiladas, but she did not reveal that to the group. Nyesha Arrington made the astute comment that all of a sudden, the completion got cutthroat.
Create a dish highlighting one chili pepper from a set. Chuy Valencia explains that the Scoville Scale measures how hot chili peppers are. Depending on how high on the scale the peppers are, the cheftestants could receive up to $20,000 furbished by Tasbaco brand sauces. Cheftestants were advised to find the balance of tasting the chili without destroying the palate. They were also given 30 minutes to cook.
Beverly Kim chose the Anaheim chili because it’s fresh and you can eat it raw. Smart decision, and yes, she did actually taste the chilies raw by taking a healthy bite out of them. Richie Farina felt apprehensive about the challenge because he does not like spice. Sarah and Lindsay were very buddy-buddy when competing against each other, asking if it was ok to use each other’s space. Makes sense, since they both recently teamed up to get Keith kicked out. Chris Jones wanted to go for the ghost chili, but decided to go for the Manzano chili since it’s a step lower. He claimed his stomach has issues with really spicy food. Perfectly understandable! Paul Qui decided to use the ghost pepper because, as he said, he was “in the bottom of the last competition.” Go Paul! I commend you for choosing to use the world’s spiciest pepper, good luck!
· Beverly Kim used Anaheim Chili to prepare Anaheim Chili Crudité with Samjang Paste.
· Sarah Grueneberg used the Fresno Chili to prepare Salmon Belly Seared with Fresno Chili Relish.
· Richard Farina used Fresno chili to prepare Fresno slaw with pineapple curd and seared bay scallops.
· Chris Jones used Manzano Chili to prepare Seared Chicken with Manzano Vinaigrette.
· Chris Crary used Thai chili to prepare coconut soup with Thai chili.
· Heather Terhune used Thai chili to prepare date and pistachio cous cous, pickled cucumbers, red onions and thai chili.
· Chuy Valencia used habañero chili to prepare sautéed scallop with achiote.
· Nyesha Arrington used habañero chili to prepare Baby Fennel & Rock Shrimp Salad with Orange Habañero Vinaigrette.
· Paul Qui used the Ghost Pepper Chili to prepare Chilled Coconut Soup with Kaffir Lime, Ghost Pepper Relish.
The least favorite dishes were Beverly’s, who didn’t cook the chili to change it or highlight it, Richard’s was too sweet and lost the power of the chili, and Chuy’s canned tomato overpowered the chili. The favorites were Heather’s, because the thai chili brought heat to it, Grayson, because she used a whole habañero and served it as a dish showcasing the chili, and Paul’s for using the most difficult chili and making it delicious. And the winner of the quickfire was Paul! For using the hottest chili he won $20,000 along with immunity.
As promised by the title of this blog, the challenge was going to be a Chili Cook-Off. The cheftestants were separated into blue, white, red, green and black teams. Nyesha was not happy with her team because Richie has been on the bottom for the quickfire challenges, and Beverly is meek. Nyesha did not want to carry the team on her back. Chris C. was worried about being on a team with Sarah because he thinks her “interactions with Keith is what brought the team apart.” Cheftestants had all night to cook and had until 7pm the next day. They would serve over 200 cowboys and rodeo fans, who would judge their chili. Nyesha, Beverly and Richie had a plan of what each was going to take for cookware. It paid off amazingly as Heather screamed “oooh bitch, she took all the beer (referring to Nyesha).” A+ for planning Nyesha!
Tom surprised everyone when he walked into the house to ask what each team was cooking. He actually really freaked out Heather when he asked her if she was using peaches for her dish, but she wasn’t.
When it got late at night, and the chefs were getting delirious, Chris complained that Chuy was drinking too much beer, telling too many stories of his accomplishments, and too many stories of his dad inventing chili. Chris therefore dubbed Chuy “the most interesting man in the world.”
· Green Team (Sarah, Chuy, and Chris C.) Chili Con Carne.
· Black Team (Nyesha, Beverly, and Richie) “Chili Mole” With Cornbread.
As the judges deliberated, they claimed the black team was less successful (too sweet for chili). The Red team’s shredded meat wasn’t good. The White team had no heat in its chili.
Beverly once again started crying, this time because she missed her husband. That and the lack of sleep probably didn’t help either. Nyeasha was weirded-out because professional chefs don’t cry. Even though, on a personal level, Nyesha was compassionate she did not want to let her emotions show out of fear of being perceived as weak.
The green team won, most likely because they had someone from Texas. The black team lost, but had one last chance to prove themselves and were given 30 minutes to turn their losing chili into a winning dish. Now they were all competing against each other.
· Beverly prepared seared tuna with habañero creamed corn.
· Nyeasha prepared a frito-encrusted black tiger shrimp with roasted corn salsa.
· Richie prepared frito-encrusted pork tenderloin, potato hash and ricotta cheese chili puree.
Beverly’s was the favorite. Nyesha’s dish was nice, but didn’t go far enough. For Richie’s dish, imagination was no issue, but there was no acid or spice to it. Richie was asked to pack his knives. I felt so bad for him, he started crying for not being able to show what Moto can do. Being a great friend of Richie, Chris shed a tear for his pal. And now for Last Chance Kitchen, Richie gets to cook against Keith.